Lying fully clothed, without shoes or socks, on a wooden table reminiscent of a massage table, I had no idea what to expect out of this healing session and unfamiliar modality. Tibetan Cranial practitioner Heidi Nordlund of Namaskar Healing in Longmont CO, touched my wrists and ankles, one by one, and laid all of her fingertips across my forehead. Chronic pain in my sacral area and neck from a severe car wreck several years prior, made lying flat on my back excruciating. The right side of my body had been unable to relax since the trauma. However, once Heidi began the work I was instantly (and surprisingly) transported to a place of deep relaxation and comfort. I easily expanded into meditative states and into a profound overall sense of well being which allowed me to surrender to the work. From a place of loving detachment, facilitated by this modality, I was able to observe as my body released in places that had been blocked and locked up for years yielding a free flowing of emotions, images, and thoughts. For many weeks after the session I carried the feeling of expansion and relief from physical pain, blocked emotions, and even some old thought patterns. From one Tibetan Cranial session my body was given a space in which it could heal, and continued to do so long after the session ended. My being, mind and emotions were re-centered, re-grounded. The effects of just one session were deep and long lasting.
Previously known as Skull Moving in Tibet and Nepal, Tibetan Cranial originated in the Tibetan Highlands approximately 3000 years ago. It is a healing modality that focuses on subtle adjustments to the bones in the skull, neck and jaw based on pulse reading. “Pulse diagnosis,” said Shar Lee, current Tibetan Cranial lineage holder and founder of the Tibetan Cranial Association, “is done in a way that listens to those secret nuances in the being.” This listening enables the practitioner to tailor each treatment to the needs of each person. No two treatments are the same.
Internally, the practitioner creates a foundation for the work by holding a space of consciousness.
“One of the beautiful things about Tibetan Cranial is that the practitioner sees the person who they are working with as God, that there is nothing wrong with that person, they only need tuning, they just lost their music. To do that you’re in mantra and they are too. I jokingly say that I get paid to pray. And I get to serve people in a way that is not me manipulating them, but me honoring them.” ~ Shar, Tibetan Cranial Director
Escape from Tibet
Before the Chinese invasion of Tibet this healing modality flourished. The Way of The Bodhisattva by Shantidev states, “If with kindly generosity one merely has the wish to sooth the aching heads of other beings, such merit knows no bounds”(Excellence of Bodhichitta vs. 21). However, after the invasion Tibetan Cranial was nearly wiped out. In Nepal in 1980s, Shar encountered her Tibetan Cranial master, a Lama who simply called himself Lama Dorje. “When the Chinese invaded, the monastery in which the tradition was [held] was annihilated. Three escaped, my teacher along with two others.” Shar left Lama Dorje with the intention of returning for further study. “I had planned to go back and study with him but he died,” Shar said. “One of the things that he did tell me was that he had been waiting a long time for me to come.” she continued.
Shar’s dedication to this work and keeping it on the planet is devotional, even though she never dreamed she would be left with this amazing task. “It´s not my work. It wasn’t my idea to carry on the lineage. My idea was just to study with the Lama again and again until I had it perfect. I had no idea that I’d be doing this.”
Uncertain about how to proceed with the information she had been entrusted with, Shar looked for others to help her. “I took 17 years looking for those other two [Tibetan Cranial Masters who escaped Tibet with Lama Dorje]. When we got to Dharamsala we found out that they are no longer on the planet. Now, they may have taught other people, which I am still hoping for.” Shar has created a network expanding across the globe to locate other Tibetan Cranial practitioners. However she still hasn’t heard of anyone.
When Shar approached the Lamas whom she knew in Nepal about how to nurture the work she was encouraged to stop looking. “I said I don’t feel like I have the information in a way that I can teach it in clarity.” Shar said. “They told me, ‘Enough looking around. If you’re chasing on the planet, you won’t be teaching.” This encouraged her to have the first Tibetan Cranial training sessions. Since then the work has been spreading.
Honoring the Tibetan Cranial’s oral tradition, students learn from hands on experience. Nothing is written down. Shar is adamant that the work remain pure.
Becoming an Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is a period of three to four years in which the students are required to attend 14 days of training per year and work on at least 108 clients independent of the training. It is also crucial that each apprentice have a strong spiritual presence and ideally, a spiritual practice. This facilitates the student’s ability to remain in the state of prayer and mantra for the duration of a session. Shar can sense this in potential apprentices “through a certain pulse that [she] takes that indicates if a person is ready to learn this work,” said a Tibetan Cranial Association representative.
Another thing that all apprentices have in common is their love of the work and deep desire to pursue it. “It’s remarkable, almost every person that’s come into the apprentice program will say this one thing, ’I’m inexplicably drawn and I don’t know why and I don’t know what this is but I am so drawn to this,” said a Tibetan Cranial Association representative. “It’s deep inside. It makes you want to help other people,” said an apprentice. “It contributes to your self and it contributes to the whole. It brings it all together. It has made me not a better person for myself, but a better person for everyone else.”
“Close to extinction”
Today, the Tibetan Cranial Association has practitioners and apprentices around the world and offers yearly trainings. “This work was so close to extinction. It almost came to extinction. Now we can be sure it will stay on the planet,” Shar said gratefully.
With the work growing stable roots, Shar and the Tibetan Cranial Association are looking to the future with a goal of establishing Wellness Centers in Colorado, Hawaii, and Europe. Their vision for these centers is to offer a space in which the traditional consecutive five to seven day treatments can take place. These centers will also provide a location for training as well as a place for practitioners to come and polish their skills. Looking to promote all around development, the wellness centers will also provide a place for peaceful retreats, meditation, yoga classes, and self-inquiry. The Tibetan Cranial Association hopes that through establishing these centers they will help deepen the roots of this modality on the planet. The centers will be safe places to nurture and protect this pure work.
For more information visit www.tibetancranial.org
TC Apprentice and Practitioner Program
TC 5 day Retreat Training: September 16 – 20
Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
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